VivTown, Population: 1

text, images, poetry, miscellany, marginalia

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Shakespeare


My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

posted by viv at 9:37 am  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg with Paul McCartney “Ballad of the Skeletons”

posted by viv at 4:04 pm  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

William Butler Yeats

I used to recite this one to my kids at bedtime.

The Song of the Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

posted by viv at 12:25 pm  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Agha Shadid Ali


not in the clear stream,
I went fishing in the desert sky.
With rain-hooks at the sun’s end,
I caught a rainbow, its colors
slippery in my hands.
I gently separated,
like the bones of a trout,
the blue from the red,
the green from the yellow,
my knife sharp, silver-exact,
each color lean,
impeccably carved.
But the rainbow’s end,
though I cleaned and washed
the earth from it,
tasted bitter,
like gold.


From the book A Nostalgist’s Map of America (Norton: 1991, out of print). About Agha Shadid Ali.

posted by viv at 11:15 am  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Viral Excuse

norovirus norovirus


Our poetry parade halted suddenly because I contracted a nasty case of the norovirus, which, when magnified and dyed, has its own kind of beauty. I am well now & will blow the whistle and get the parade moving again tomorrow.




posted by viv at 8:30 am  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Louise Bogan


The cormorant still screams
Over cave and  promontory.
Stony wings and bleak glory
Battle in your dreams.
Now sullen and deranged,
Not simply, as a child,
You look upon the earth
And find it harrowed and wild.
Now, only to mock
At the sterile cliff laid bare,
At the cold pure sky unchanged,
You look upon the rock,
You look upon the air.


A pure lyric — austere and precise — perfection.

posted by viv at 8:46 am  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vincent Ferrini

After Reading Yeats

I am at Loblolly Cove washing his rhythms out of my Ear
the salt drying my hair and lips

The wind has given me its clothes
fitting me back into my bones

My fire drives me
the world has my flesh on


Vincent Ferrini

In my twenties I was introduced to Vincent Ferrini by a friend who was living in Gloucester, Massachusetts. We became instant lovers — not of the flesh (though anyone who knew Vincent knows that Vincent tried!) but of the spirit. For several years we corresponded and exchanged poems and thoughts. He addressed me as “Lady of the Camelias” (no doubt he addressed others thusly!) and took me under his giant and passionate poetic wing, never once giving up on trying to get me into his bed and yet staying on as a steady and profusely generous friend and champion despite my refusals. One night at a dinner party we danced an hour-long  tango-esque beatnik improvisation in our black clothes and silver buckles and bangles.  We were both completely entranced. It was our defining moment together.

Thanks Vincent. You poured a fire into my life that still warms me and I am grateful.


posted by viv at 9:33 pm  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lucille Clifton

Sadly, the world recently lost the poet Lucille Clifton. Her poems live on.

Plaque outside New York Public Library


From Next (Boa Editions, 1987)

posted by viv at 9:06 am  

Friday, April 8, 2011


From the book Not Vanishing by Chrystos




Thump I leap you      shake

down memories    hoarse    You die, are buried

your name closes the door

youreappearatnight   eyes wide   Iseetheuncaught

white man his shoes polished his hand gun

last pulse    the heart contracts    dreams our knees crumple

red neon flickers over your redman hands

black moccasins on white ground

curl unseen without frame

No bells on our feet    feather still    soles

worn through

I dance you


for Mani, murdered with his friend Marcus outside a Phoenix bar


Chrystos is a two-spirit activist poet artist amazing human being. Buy her books. Listen to her read another poem,  Song for a Lakota Woman, at a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force event on February 5, 2011, where she said ” “Everything you need to learn can be found for free, in close observation of your relationships with the earth, with each other and with yourselves.”


posted by viv at 8:28 am  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spáre, strange;
Whatever is fickle, frecklèd (who knows how?)
With swíft, slów; sweet, sóur; adázzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is pást change:
Práise hím.


First published in 1918, the year WWI ended.

posted by viv at 7:33 am  
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